Justifying Young Puer Teas
First, listen to this. We are going to need it as a reference point when elaborating on what Nannuo Puer tea (above) has to do with Justin Timberlake (below).
Pusher girl, a track off of JT’s latest release The 20/20 Experience, is a song that drips. Swells. Pulses. It’s sex. Masterfully produced, well crafted, poppy neo-soul sex. This is the mature pop icon, Justin Timberlake. He is a case study in evolution. Those of you with a memory of American pop culture will recall that before Mr.Timberlake arrived at his current album he went through multiple transformations.
When he was young, you likely loathed him. Back up dancing in baggy jean overalls on the Mickey Mouse Club. It’s tough to like this kind of family friendly programming, even when you are a kid. If you are like me, you probably didn’t even notice he was there. You opted to watch Voltron instead or despite your dislike, you might have admitted that he had talent and moved on. Even the biggest hater has to admit those are rad 90’s Disney© Dance moves .
Fast forward a few years, he starts fronting for the boy band N’sync. You might not have noticed the Disney Channel show, but unless you lived in a cave, you knew the Back Street Boys and N’sync. His band-mates and hairdo forced you to suppress homicidal rage, but again you had to admit, he had pipes. You weren’t lining up with the 8th grade girls wearing Stussy t-shirts to buy tickets to see their sold out arena shows. Again, you opted out and went to Warped Tour instead.
Jump ahead a few more years. You could really take or leave anything he has done in his career up until this point. He seems like any run of the mill teen heart throb. Then, suddenly, he’s not a kid anymore. He is no longer the Mouseketeer or the teeny bopper boy band lead. He is an adult. He starts putting out albums like Justified and Future Sex Love Sounds. He brings sexy back. Not only do you want to listen to those albums, you are anxiously awaiting his next release. You start seeing him in films and on late night television and he is a talented entertainer. What happened to the Mickey Mouse Club?
After several paragraphs about Justin Timberlake’s career, you might be thinking, “So what does this have to do with Nannuo Shan and puer tea? Twodog, I am a busy man, stop wasting my god damn time. I don’t even like Justin Timberlake. Your analogy sucks and am taking you off of my Google reader.” Keep your top on, I am getting to it.
Fair reader, I will let you in on two little secrets; First, I never cared for the Mickey Mouse Club. Second, I don’t look forward to drinking young Nannuo teas. However, I still do the latter in spite of not enjoying it.
I drink young Nannuo teas like a talent scout, betting on who is going to have a career. It is a tough game, you might end up with a few JTs or with a few… who was the “bad boy” from 98 degrees? The point is, I don’t drink a lot of young Nannuo teas in my daily rotation. However, if you open the doors on my personal collection, Nannuo shan is well represented. I am aging them in a few different places, with several different teas, ranging from more well known productions to blank white paper wrapped cakes from small productions. I have more than a few tongs [7 cake stacks] of tea with nothing more to identify them than a quickly scrawled Mr.Qin, Spring, 2007 Nannuo. I still haven’t opened those tongs, but I will when the talent is ready.
The tricky business with aging puer teas is that it is not an exact science. Teas will go through phases, starring in fast food commercials and waiting tables in between moments in the spotlight. Some will ascend to stardom, others will play regional theater. Poor storage can lead to a once promising tea ending up as a gutter dwelling heroin junkie.
So, where is a Timberlake-esk talent for Nannuo? The 2003 Wistaria Ziyin is in the ballpark. Price tag is around $175 per cake, which is Justified.(Sorry) Not an inexpensive pricetag, but Timberlake doesn’t play weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. Not to mention that finding talent in a sea of aspiring entertainers is a tough game. I could find 100 cakes on taobao [Chinese ebay] that are at or above this price, but have been stored terribly and lack the depth of charms that the Ziyin possesses. It is leathery and oily, thick in the mouth and throat with traces of dark fruit. All of the Mickey Mouse is gone, which can partially be attributed to Taiwan storage.
What is a low budget producer to do?
You don’t have $1,000 to spend on a tong of ten year old Nannuo cakes? You are not alone. For the talent scout on a budget, you are going to have to find stars, not employ them. If a quality 10 year old tea is out of your price range, then a quality 20 or 30 year old tea not in the cards either. So, find some quality 1-3 year old tea. Use your best judgment, and buy a cake or a tong, and stash it in a well cared for pumidor. ( no heavy smells, no direct sunlight, moderate humidity ) In several years time, hopefully some of those guesses worked out. My personal pick and shameless self plug is this 2012 Ruiyuan Nannuo. Will it be a winner? I don’t know. Nobody does.
But in a good scenario, you get a smooth tea that sings and dances with enviable talent.
On the off chance you hate Justin Timberlake, (or are underwhelmed like these hipster hate-it-alls), you are welcome to leave alternative rise to glory analogies in the comments. I couldn’t come up with a brutal metal alternative. Maybe Deathklok.